Situation critical for Esks

Head coach Danny Maciocia might have to look east to see a playoff spot for the Eskimos. (Sun File)

Head coach Danny Maciocia might have to look east to see a playoff spot for the Eskimos. (Sun File)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos are about to embark on a critical journey.

In last place in the West Division with a terrible 3-6-1 record, the Esks' realistic playoff hopes are in the East Division through the cross-over rules.

So, two points from the final East playoff spot - currently held by Toronto - Edmonton is starting a stretch of four straight games against East Division teams.

The first tilt comes tomorrow at Commonwealth Stadium against Montreal. (7 p.m., CHED)

The Green and Gold then play in Montreal before a back-to-back set against Toronto.

There is also one game later this season involving the East - after some West Division tilts - against Hamilton.

"If we win four out of the five Eastern games I think that puts us in great position to get the cross-over (playoff berth)," said veteran Edmonton middle linebacker A.J. Gass.

"Obviously, if we run the table we are looking good no matter what.

"For us right now, we have to focus on Montreal (tomorrow) night.

"I think to start discussing playoff scenarios at this point is a bit early and it takes away from the focus (tomorrow) night.

"If we come out and play 30 minutes (tomorrow) we are going to see the same (losing) result. If we play 60 we'll see a different (result)."

Edmonton has lost five of its last six games.

The club enters this weekend's action five points from sole possession of the final playoff spot in the West, which is why the East Division has become the focus.

Receiver Trevor Gaylor senses a change in the locker-room this week.

"I see guys crossing the t's and dotting the i's more," said Gaylor yesterday afternoon.

"A couple of guys in (looking) at film more than normal.

"A couple of guys in the weight room more than normal.

"We had a great week of practice - not too many mental errors.

"I think guys are taking it a little bit more serious.

"Sometimes it takes a nice kick in the ass before you can."

SHORT YARDAGE: IT APPEARS THE ESKIMOS WILL HAVE DEFENSIVE BACK STANFORD SAMUELS AND RUNNING BACK TYLER EBELL ON THE FIELD TOMORROW.

Battling a shoulder problem, Ebell was able to practise yesterday, while Samuels took reps even though he is stuck with two injuries (turf toe and bone bruise) on the same foot.

But don't expect defensive end Charles Alston to play because he's battling an unspecified injury.

FINISH LINES: PROVING HOW BIZARRE THE SEASON HAS BEEN FOR INJURIES AROUND THE ESKIMO COMPOUND, LEGENDARY PLAY-BY-PLAY BROADCASTER BRYAN HALL IS NOW ON THE INJURED LIST.

Hallsy has a torn calf muscle after stumbling on the stairs at 630 CHED headquarters.

Hall limped into the Eskimo locker room earlier this week to have the problem diagnosed by the club's training staff.

A torn left calf muscle kept Eskimo offensive lineman Dan Comiskey off the field for several games this summer.

But Hall will surely be at the microphone tomorrow night for CHED's radio broadcast of the game with colour commentator Dave Campbell.


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